Why Eat Locally? (Original Reasons Apt)

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March 26, 2012 at 6:17 am

Editor’s Note: Michael Morowitz originally contributed these reasons for eating local in August 2008.  Three plus years later, they sound pretty darn apt.  See, just this weekend we heard of people, farmer’s market people of all people, looking for a simple list of why eat local.  We think we’ve addressed this well already.

I don’t eat locally for any one reason. There are a number of reasons that have a bearing on any local food decision that I make. First and foremost, I’m interested in food and I like to know a lot about where my food comes from. Below are five other reasons that might make sense to you. You might not agree with all of them, but I hope that one or two resonate with you:

Taste

First and foremost, what drew me to local, seasonal eating was simply taste. My passion for new and exciting flavors taught me that the closer something is to its original source and natural state, the more likely it is to have a better, stronger flavor. Of course, “better flavor” is a subjective notion, but I believe that there are few people who would argue with the taste difference between a fresh peach picked ripe from the tree and a peach that was picked underripe a week ago, and gassed during its 2000-mile journey to force ripening.

Global Environment

There are a number of studies and statistics on both sides of the question of the environmental impact of local eating. I don’t find it interesting or compelling to quote studies and statistics, but I do believe strongly that supporting local farmers, especially farmers using sustainable practices, lessens our impact on the environment.

Local Economy

Eating locally helps support local agriculture and local small businesses. Choosing to do business with our friends and neighbors helps keep a healthy and diverse local economy.

Diverse Culture

I find it depressing that you can enter a supermarket almost anywhere in the country and see the exact same produce shipped from the exact same places. Grapes from Chile, oranges from Australia (I even saw this in Florida!), berries from Mexico. I believe that what we eat defines a large part of our culture. When we homogenize our diets from Maine to California we’re degrading what makes our cities and states interesting and enjoyable places to live.

Food Safety

When you know exactly where your food comes from, it’s much easier to find the source of a problem. Multi-state large-scale salmonella or e. coli outbreaks are harder to diagnose or control when our food comes from all over the world.

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2 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    We joined a CSA this past summer and, in combination with our local farmers market, made a conscious effort – for exactly the reasons you mention – to try to get as much of our food from local, sustainable sources. We didn’t have a perfect record by any means, but we did manage to obtain most of our summer and fall produce from local sources, and it proved to be a wonderful experience.

    I remember biting in to the first bit of lettuce from our CSA and thinking, “So *that’s* what lettuce tastes like!” We’ve joined the winter CSA and are looking forward to next spring, while trying to figure out a workable approach for the winter.

  2. Martin says:

    I have a CSA and its great, food tastes great, organic, full deal. I am however disappointed in the farmer’s markets in the ‘burbs. I have trouble locating organic produce. I unfortunately have an issue supporting conventional practices, even if it helps local biz, especially for higher prices than stores! Need more local ORGANIC folks.

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